Visitors to Pett Level warned of potential cliff fall

A resident has warned of the '˜dangers' of a cliff fall at Pett Level as the warm weather makes the cliff edges more vulnerable.

Monday, 13th August 2018, 5:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 3:22 am
Louisa Jennings is concerned of rocks falling from the cliff at Pett Level. Picture: Louisa Jennings

Louisa Jennings, who lives in Rye, visited the cliff and Fairlight Cove beach last week with her 19-year-old son.

She said people were getting close to the cliff and inspecting the rocks at the bottom ‘completely unaware’ of the risk of falling rocks.

The 43-year-old said she was worried rocks could fall from the cliff ‘at any moment’ and felt more needed to be done to protect the public.

A section of the cliff has previously fallen onto the beach. Picture: Louisa Jennings

She said: “I would like to share my urgent concern and raise awareness about the stability and dangers of the cliff at Pett level and Fairlight Cove beach.

“There are people walking close to it and also children playing underneath it and even trying to climb up it.

“It seems that people are aware of the risk of cliff falls further along the coast at Birling Gap and Beachy Head but there doesn’t seem to be any awareness of the dangers here.”

Louisa said she remembered sections of the cliff falling when she was growing up in Fairlight and thinks the dangers are just as severe now.

Louisa Jennings is concerned of rocks falling from the cliff at Pett Level. Picture: Louisa Jennings

She added: “It is a lovely beach and a really nice place to visit but these cliffs are dangerous.

“When I was younger, the cliff used to fall and it felt like a small earthquake. This cliff has been falling for quite a while now.

“Now it’s really breaking up due to a mixture of the hot weather we’ve had and the wind and rain which has caused the sea to erode away at the cliff.

“There are boulders at the top are about the same size of my son’s car which is a Vauxhall Corsa.”

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said cliffs along the UK coastline are ‘continually eroding’ and it is ‘impossible to predict’ when the next piece might fall.

The spokesman added: “Periods of intense rainfall followed by dryer warmer weather will often make cliff edges more vulnerable. We’ve seen a number of cliff collapses around the UK coastline in recent months. It’s very clear that cliffs are very unstable in places and we really can’t stress enough how important it is to keep back from the edge.

“There is no ‘safe’ place to be.
“Some of the cracks that have appeared have been several feet away from the edge. Don’t be tempted to go and investigate and don’t risk going to the edge to get a dramatic picture.”

Louisa referred to an incident in North Yorkshire last week where a young child died after being hit by a falling rock and fears this could happen here.

She added: “People are just not aware. There are a lot of people visiting the area who don’t really understand it and getting close to the cliff because it looks nice and looks interesting.

“At any moment one of these people could end up with a boulder landing on their head.”

The coastguard advised people to stand no closer than the height of the cliff away.

The spokesman added: “That means that if the cliff is 25 metres high, don’t go closer than 25 metres towards it.”

The coastguard also said one of its biggest problems is tackling the ‘selfie culture’ where people take risks to get a dramatic photograph of themselves on a dangerous cliff edge or during a tidal surge.

The spokesman added: “No selfie or photograph is worth risking your life for.

“Remember to call 999 and ask for the coastguard if you see anyone in difficulty or get into trouble yourself.”

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